An Inquiry into Technology, Student Voice and Social Justice

I’ve written about this a few times, but our inquiry theme this year the Western Massachusetts Writing Project is digital literacies. A keynote address that I gave the other week at a WMWP event centered on valuing the emerging literacies of the digital age.

And yesterday, as a follow up to that keynote, I helped facilitate an inquiry session with about a dozen WMWP folks around the idea of valuing student voices. In particular, much of our discussion and exploration centered around the ways that podcasting and audio recording can open up doors for expression for students.

We began with a writing prompt, on which we wrote about one of those “aha! moments” around technology — that time when something happened that you suddenly realized some possibilities. We then used Audacity to share out some of our moments. We didn’t save the audio file, however, since it was an experiment in the session and I was working on the school’s computer. But here is a podcast version of what I wrote about, centering on a student with learning disabilities who discovered some tools that helped re-envision himself as a writer.

We then spent some time on the National Writing Project’s Digital Is website, considering the rationale and reasons why technology can have an impact on learning, and empowering students. In particularly, we read and watched the videos related to this fantastic resource by some friends in California: The Change Writers. What we really loved is how the resource shows a project that merges the power of digital media and production with writing and research, in a meaningful way. That resource also connected last year’s of WMWP around social justice with this year’s digital literacy theme.

Check out one of the videos from the resource that really shows the value of podcasting and Voicethread for student voice and motivation and audience:

Finally, we used Voicethread, too, and we began with a short writing prompt, asking the folks what kind of change they would bring to the world. I’ve kept the thread open, if you want add your ideas, too. Please, do.

And for a final reflection, we used Wallwisher to add a final thought to the inquiry session. I was happy to be part of this group, diving into the possibilities of digital literacies and tools, and keeping our focus on student learning as writers and as producers of content.

Peace (in the inquiry),
Kevin

 

The Influence of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project

At our annual conference last weekend with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, we asked teachers to reflect on what impact the WMWP has had on their professional and personal lives. Here are some of the responses, which demonstrate the power of being connected to a strong network of teachers and colleagues who value not only writing, but also all aspects of teaching, and who reach out to support and encourage others in the WMWP network.

Peace (in the project),
Kevin

Digital Kids, Digital Literacies: A Keynote Address

Here is the presentation from my keynote address given on Saturday at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project Best Practices Conference at the University of Massachusetts. We also captured it on video but I have not yet gotten around to the editing of that footage. Here, you can at least see some of the themes I was tracking as I talked about the literate lives of our students outside, as well as inside, of our school, and how technology is becoming a part of that fabric of reading, writing, speaking/listening, and the mechanics of writing.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

 

Reconnecting with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project

I am really looking forward to the Western Massachusetts Writing Project‘s annual conference today, where I have been asked to give a keynote address on digital literacies (which is our inquiry theme this year). This was the teaser that I had made a few weeks ago, as I began to think about the areas that I wanted to explore in my keynote.

We’re going to have video cameras about, too, as we try to connect our conference to the National Day on Writing’s theme of “What I Write” and we are going to feature a group of WMWP alumns as they talk about the influence of the National Writing Project on their lives as teachers and writers, and we will film the keynote, too. (Usually, I am the one filming someone else).

Peace (in connections),
Kevin

 

The Literacies of the Digital Dream Scene Project

During an upcoming keynote address for the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, I am going to be sharing out our Dream Scene digital storytelling project as an example of bringing media and technology into the classroom in a meaningful and powerful way, with writing still at the heart of what students are doing. I’ve been working on a visual depiction of the process that students go through as they develop their Dream Scene project.

See what you think:
Dream Scene Project

And here is our collection of published dreams (so far):

 

Peace (in the dream),
Kevin

 

A Presentation Teaser: Digging into Digital Literacies

I’ve been doing some thinking work around a keynote address coming up around digital literacies with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. I made this video as a sort of teaser, trying to lay out some ideas and flesh out some direction for what I want to speak about — which is how the digital literacies of kids can be connected to the literacies we value in school but we need some bridges between reading/writing in school and reading/writing in their lives.

Peace (in the prez),
Kevin

Western Mass Writing Project Newsletter

Our writing project is shifting to an electronic format for our newsletter. It’s nothing fancy in terms of design, but is familiar in format to our folks and provides important information about what is happening around the WMWP world, including an upcoming conference (where I am the keynote speaker).
WMWP Fall 2012 Newsletter
Peace (in the news),
Kevin

WMWP Best Practices: Digital Literacy Theme

If you are in the Western Massachusetts area, I invite you to consider coming to our Western Massachusetts Writing Project event next month called Best Practices. The theme running through many of the sessions is digital literacy (which is our inquiry idea for WMWP this year). I am honored to have been asked to give a keynote address at the event, and I will be exploring the ways that technology and digital literacies are part of the lives of young people, and how we as educators can recognize and tap into those ideas for learning.
See the program:
WMWP Best Practices 2012 Program
You can register online at the WMWP website.
Peace (in the practice),
Kevin

Video Reflection: Revisiting “Teaching the New Writing”

As one of the editors and writers in Teaching the New Writing, I thought it might be time to step back and reflect a bit on how the book is holding up against time. In other words, do the chapters by classroom teachers writing about how technology may or may not be changing their teaching of writing (in a culture of standardized testing and assessment) still hold relevance for teachers?

I know such reflection is a bit self-serving, given my role as an editor and writer, but I genuinely wondered about it. So I perused the book once more and decided to just start talking as a video reflection.

In the end, I conclude that there are some chapters that still can be very important to teachers considering or using technology. A few pieces don’t quite stand the test of time. And I think the question of what does writing look like in a digital age is still up for grabs. Is technology changing the way we write, and therefore, the way we teach writing?

I invite you to come participate in a discussion of my reflections. Using a new site that I found (Thanks to my friend, Terry) called Vialogues, you can participate in chats about videos, and more. It’s interesting and worth a visit. Give the site a try by adding your ideas about Teaching the New Writing or about writing in general.

Peace (in the reflective practice),
Kevin